2003 - Digital Tools for the Digital Age
In the digital age not many people stop to think about how word of ‘good fishing’ spread in 1938. Few had telephones. If they did, word of a hot fishing location might ‘accidently’ spread by people listening on the party-line telephone system, or by the operator, who routed calls, telling a friend; but most fishing reports spread by word-of-mouth. In 1938, as it is today, the information was always suspect because everyone knew two truths about anglers. First, they all lie; and second, a true angler would never divulge detailed information about where fishing was really good!
Things have changed in 2014. The electronic fishing tools available to anglers continue to expand. Today there are electronic recording fish-finders that tell you the bottom contours, water temperature, fish species, size and depth of the fish you are pursuing – all on a LED screen. GPS devices record to-the-foot where the best habitat is located. There are cameras you can send over the side of your boat or down your ice fishing hole to see the fish you are pursuing in real-time.
And the timeless desire to tell a fishing and hunting story is being blogged, tweeted and Facebooked. This often happens from locations where anglers are catching fish (or not) within seconds of landing the ‘big one,’ or hunters posing for the ‘beauty shot’ in the field.
Idaho Department of Fish and Game has also taken their ‘game’ to the digital age in developing the online Hunt and Fishing Planners for the hunter and angler.
In 2010 the Fishing Planner allowed anglers to search basic information showing the type of fish you could expect to find, along with basic maps and references to rules for fishing. Just two years later the Fishing Planner App made this information available on mobile phones. The Fishing Planner was updated in 2014 with features that find your device location, tell you how far you are from the nearest fishing area, show maps and satellite imagery, link to how-to videos, report on what to expect to catch or find, fish stocking reports, links for buying licenses or permits, the roads to follow and trails to take to reach your desired destination, locations and amenities of the closest boating, fishing, and hunting access sites, rules etc. It does nearly everything for angler except clean your fish.
Idaho has hundreds of hunting opportunities each year, which are listed in great detail in Idaho's hunting regulation books.
At times the regulations may seem complex, but this is for good reason. They are designed to provide the best opportunities for a wide range of weapons and harvest desires. Some of us dream of a giant branch-antlered bull stepping slowly into view, close enough we can feel its breath as we try to hold our draw. Others are looking to fill our freezer. Many of us are somewhere in between.
No matter what calls you out into the field on a cold fall morning, the Hunt Planner is designed to help you to explore all the options and find the right hunt for you.
Let's demonstrate how you might use a couple of features for our two examples:
To find the best chance of success with your general deer tag, you can use the Search Harvest Statistics option to look for hunts with a greater than 50% success rate in the previous year. This highlights two deer hunts in Unit 16 which have enjoyed a 45% or better success rate for the last dozen years!
For the best chance at an archery bull, one might search Harvest Statistics for past archery elk hunts, just as we did for a freezer-filling deer hunt. Another option would be to use the HuntPlanner which allows us to limit our search to Southwest Region archery-only elk hunts. Using the advanced options we can further filter on controlled hunts with a 50% harvest success where 100% of the harvest was 6 points or greater in 2013. One hunt remains: Hunt 2148 (Hunt Area 46, 15 tags).
Beyond a search engine for hunting opportunities, the Hunt Planner contains a number of lesser-known features that hunters may find useful:
- Browse Harvest Statistics - View and download spreadsheets
- 2014 Hunt Area Map Index - Contains a map of every hunt area viewable as an interactive map, pdf file or google earth/gps viewable kml file.
- Real-time Mandatory Harvest Reports - raw uncorrected hunter harvest reports for deer, elk and pronghorn as they are submitted which may be viewed in live graphs and tabular formats.
- IDFG Fire Map with real-time closures and fire activity with hunts added 2011.
Just like anglers, hunters protect their secret spots, too. However, with online tools it’s easier to explore new country and find your own favorite hunting spot.
In 1938, it would be safe to assume no one ever dreamed of Idaho Fish and Game offering powerful tools like the Hunt and Fishing Planners. Since we launched our desk-top Planners, technological advances have expanded the information we can provide for our customers at the touch of your phone or a click of your mouse. With more than half the households in the United States having occupants owning smartphones, we will continue to build for the latest technology to improve customer service to our hunting and fishing public through their mobile devices. Stay tuned.